Ed Hawkins urges punters to look carefully at prices for top bats and reveals a match-odds strategy for IPL.
"Betting without a piece of information that leads you to believe, rightly or wrongly, that the price is wrong is a must. And that piece of information can’t be a hunch"
Deciphering the tops
Through gritted teeth, and perhaps a thick fug of smoke down the local (when they were not closed) you would hear hardened, grown men with a tear in their eye spit: "Gambling? Hardest game in the world." Aye.
But gambling is impossible if you take bad prices. You cannot possibly succeed if you are wagering without an edge in your favour. Now, don't laugh. But an edge is the ephemeral 'system'. A word spoken in hushed tomes in the same sort of establishment by the same sort of people already mentioned. But you have to have one. It's like going to war with a pop gun.
Betting without a piece of information that leads you to believe, rightly or wrongly, that the price is wrong is a must. And that piece of information can't be a hunch or 'he's a good player, fancy him to do well today'.
There have been some smelly old numbers so far in the Indian Premier League on the tops markets. A standout was Eoin Morgan to top score for Kolkata Knight Riders at 4.003/1.
Now, Morgan is a fine player. But that isn't what counts here. Frankly, the majority of players in IPL are fine players. Otherwise they wouldn't be there. So a guy capable of doing his job with either bat or ball isn't a tick for a tops wager.
For a start you have to question whether his price is correct for where he bats. Morgan at those odds are fine. But only if he is going to be opening. And he won't be. He has only batted higher than No 4 once in three years in all T20. He has a win rate of 13% int he last three years. That's pretty good for where he bats but he should be 13/2.
The price should, really, be a guide to where a guy is batting. Another stinker of a price was AB De Villiers at the same odds to top score for Bangalore in their opener. At the price one should have been absolutely sure he was going to bat no lower than No 3. De Villiers batted at No 5.
Now, the fact he won shouldn't ruin the argument. Bet 3/1 shots who bat at No 5 for the rest of the tournament if you like. But it would be a major surprise if you turned a profit. For the record, there is no No 5 who boasts a 3/1 record on win rate in this IPL.
For a cold-light-of-day reality check as to whether 3/1 about a No 5 batsman is value, look what happens to his price in-running. It drifts like a barge as soon as the first boundary is struck.
De Villiers, of course, is a sensation. But the oddsmakers know that punters are more inclined to bet him because of his reputation. So why bother to offer a decent price? Rohit Sharma likewise. Rohit, as talented as he is, wins at the rate of a 4/1 shot but goes off at 11/4.
An opener should be 3/1 or skinnier. And this works both ways. If you are getting 4/1 or 5/1 (or bigger) about a batsmen who normally opens, then it's value. Sharjeel Khan, an opener, in the South Africa versus Pakistan T20 series is an example.
There is nowt wrong with big numbers about batsmen in that No 5 to No 7 slot. The engine room. Or 'finishers' as they are known. But pick your spots, baby. They are generally good for two or three wagers a tournament and once you've won on them, it is rarely worth continuing to hammer the price.
Often mistakes are made in these positions. Kieron Pollard is a fantastic shout as explained here. And Abdul Samad likewise. Samad is one good innings (and not necessarily a winner) away from going off at 7s for the rest of his career.
Checking a player's win rate (how often he actually wins) is the best way of deciphering value. Fortunately we do this with our IPL daily tips sheet. A strong record against a team or selection of bowlers is also worthwhile. Likewise a good record at a particular venue. The holy grail is all three.
It is also worth comparing prices on the exchange and Sportsbook. One or the other could be offering vastly better odds. Morgan a case in point when the 4.003/1 on the exchange was trumped by 9/2 on Sportsbook.
When to oppose the favourite
One famous 'system' for betting on IPL is this: back the outsider. This strategy was discussed on Cricket...Only Bettor this week. In an often chaotic format, the gulf in odds between largely well-matched teams can be overestimated.
After all, a game can be won by a single standout performance. Chris Morris for Rajasthan against Delhi for example. His 36 from 18 when Royals looked dead and buried. So far (before Punjab v Chennai), backing the outsider to £10-level stakes would be providing profits of £32.49. Here are the percentage win rates for outsiders in the last three years.
Favourites probably don't win with the regularity one would expect. Below are the sequences for consecutive wins by the match odds jolly by year. A 'shock' is never far away although we note that in the final third of the tournament, the business end, the outsiders are less reliable.
Consecutive wins for favourite by matches - 2020
6 matches: 1
Ed Hawkins P-L
Based only on available prices. Does not include back-to-lay in-running match advice or commission rate. Figures 2013-2016 on 1pt level stakes. Includes Hawk-Eye stats column p-l & COB Best Bets year end